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What is the point of the BMW X2′s existence?

Chop-top crossover loses rear space but is more fun to drive than you might expect


I am, I admit, struggling to think of a compelling reason that the BMW X2 (and electric iX2) actually exists. There’s the obvious answer of “it fills up BMW’s coffers” and with 390,000 of the previous model finding homes, that’s an ineluctable truth.

Clearly also, there must be some call from customers for a car that’s like an X1, but less practical overall. I honestly can’t imagine why someone would actually ask for such a thing, but here we are and here is the second-generation X2.

It’s most definitely not as pretty as the old one (which was the only good-looking even-numbered BMW X product) and has taken on a silhouette similar to that of the larger X4 and X6 – a cliff-face front end, followed by a somewhat chunky midriff (one sympathises) and a fast-sloping rear end (ditto).

Up front, the piercing headlights, with their little linear elements that kind of hark back to the quad-lights of old, are rather nice, but I’m less enamoured of the big, hexagonal grille. True, it’s not as unpleasant as some other recent BMW grilling efforts (at least it’s largely horizontal ...) but it’s hardly pretty. The rear works rather better. The way that fast roofline sweeps down to meet the brake lights and the little ducktail spoiler works well, although you do have to kind of ignore the vast expanse of bodywork lower down.


Not surprisingly, the X2′s insides are pretty much identical to those of the taller, more practical X1. There are some detail changes, such as the latest Version 9 software for the big central touchscreen, and some of the trim has been changed, but the broader fixtures and fittings are the same. Front-seat comfort and space is fine, although the sports seats can be rather too figure-hugging for some. Overall quality is fantastic.

In the back, things are less positive. Unless those in the front are prepared to nudge forwards a little, legroom is rather tight and very tall passengers sitting in the back will find that their hair brushes the roof liner, not to mention that the heavily angled roof rail is unpleasantly close to their eye socket. At least the boot is practical. Thanks to the fact that the X2 is 50mm longer than the X1, it has a maximum possible luggage space (variable according to the model) of 560-litres, compared to the X1′s 540-litres.

The all-electric iX2, in two-motor four-wheel drive xDrive30 form, has a little less boot space – 525-litres – but is still reasonably practical for a small crossover. It’s also packing some serious power. The two motors give it a combined 313hp and 494Nm of torque which means that, with a 5.6 sec 0-100km/h run time, it’s damn near as quick as the range-topping, and much more expensive, X2 M35i.

It also has a little more range than the equivalent X1 – which must surely be an advantage of that sloping roof. BMW quotes a maximum range on a charge of 449km, but on our test drive we observed a maximum range of only 400km on a full charge, and with average energy consumption of 19.3kWh/100km (compared to the quoted 16.3kWh/100km), you might not even get that far. For those who wish to have a little more range, there will be a cheaper, single-motor iX2 eDrive20 model which has a claimed 490km range.


You’d expect a four-wheel-drive EV with 494Nm to absolutely dump all that grunt straight into the pavement and feck off into the horizon, but the iX2′s acceleration is actually much more measured from a standing start. Brisk, certainly, but you can feel the weight, a hair over two-tonnes (don’t try parking in Paris any more ...) holding it back. Where the iX2 feels much more lively is when you tip in some acceleration when you’re already up and running. Then, especially in Sport mode, it feels properly quick.

Sport mode is most certainly necessary for tight and twisty roads. On wider roads, Efficiency mode is fine, as it lightens up the steering and makes the iX2 feel pleasantly wafty, and there’s no doubting the impressive refinement and the total lack of cabin rattles and squeaks (would that we could say that of all EVs).

However, for tighter corners, you’ll want the extra steering aggression of Sport to properly tuck that blunt nose into an apex with something approximating true BMW-ness. It’s actually reasonably good fun, the iX2. Certainly it feels more agile and rewarding than the likes of the Mercedes EQA or Audi Q4, but you do have to anticipate – overcook your corner entry speed, and the iX2 suddenly lurches into scrappy understeer, as all that weight catches up with your enthusiasm. Slow in, fast out is the way to do it.

Sometimes it’s slow in, slower out, as the iX2 is quite stiffly suspended (a common problem with overweight EVs and crossovers) and on very bumpy stretches, the suspension, and even the steering, can get unpleasantly jittery and unsettled. And, indeed, unsettling.

Is the M-version of the X2 any better in this regard? BMW’s M-Sport division is having a massive moment right now, having shifted some 200,000 M-badged cars last year, most of them so-called M-Performance models such as this X2 M35i. M-Performance refers to sporty, rapid, powerful models which are nonetheless not quite the full, aggressive, ultra-sporting M models, such as the M3 or M5. Mind you, they’re not as expensive either, and hardly slow.

This 300hp X2 M35i is fractionally faster to 100km/h (by 0.2 sec) than the iX2 eDrive 30, and has a much higher top speed – 250km/h versus 180km/h, of academic interest in Ireland but a critical selling point for speed-hungry Autobahn drivers. Mind you, the M35i is also a full €10,000 more expensive than its electric brother, not to mention the tax, insurance, and €1.70-a-litre running costs, so can it possibly be worth it?


Well, not really, but kind of. In cold, objective terms you’d never buy this M35i over the similarly quick electric version, but for a particular type of motoring enthusiast, you can see the appeal. While it’s similarly compromised in terms of rear-seat space, and in its weight (albeit it’s 300kg lighter than the EV version) and the over-firmness of its suspension, on the right road and in the right mood the M35i still has a certain appeal. In fact, with its rorty (stereo-assisted) engine note, four-wheel drive traction, and pop-bang exhaust, it can do a pretty good impression of a rally car with a sumptuous leather and Alcantara interior.

Would I buy either? No, to be honest. For €7,000 less than the cost of the iX2 xDrive30, you could get the brilliant i4 eDrive35, with its slightly longer range and vastly better driving experience. For much, much less than the M35i you could have a 230i Coupe, which while not an M-Performance model, and while certainly not as practical, will give you vastly more of a true, blue-purple-and-red BMW driving experience, which is presumably the point of buying an M-car in the first place.

Perhaps, then, there is only one reason for the X2′s existence – it sells big in China, and it’s likely that is why this one is so much less pretty than the old one. Chinese buyers love their aggressive-looking BMWs. The rest of us have to find solace where we can.

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